Action the dog
There ain't a dog more beautiful in all of surfing than the 11-timer's personal husky, Action the Dog. Here, being prepped for POV.

Surf Fans Protest: “Only a dog returns to its own vomit!”

Core surf fans tell the World Surf League what they think!

This whole Facebook x World Surf League collaboration has been very interesting to observe. The rollout, the subsequent problems and reaction, the rollback. And it appears a war is brewing between the League and its most passionate fans. A war that could change the facebook of professional surfing forever. Or alter absolutely nothing whatsoever.

Let us review. The WSL signed an exclusive 2-year, 15 million dollar agreement with Facebook at the end of January making it the only place to watch professional surfing. There was some, say, mixed messages from the League claiming this year would be a soft launch and professional surf contests would be on both Facebook and the traditional app/website but things changed at J-Bay and Facebook was the only place to watch all glitchy and odd.

Surf fans revolted, the League quickly tossed the contest back onto the app/website and yesterday released this statement about things moving forward:

Thank you again for your patience and support as we continue to work through the Facebook transition and challenges that Facebook has been having on some devices.

They are working hard to resolve the issues and we are both committed to delivering the best possible experience going forward. We’d like to remind everyone that we have temporarily re-instituted the broadcast across our WSL channels for the remainder of J-Bay and for the US Open.

Now you are able to watch our live broadcast on the WSL website, the WSL app, and of course on Facebook. Again we apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced last week.

A very nice kick under the bus with the “challenges that Facebook has been having…” line and semi-nice apology. Did the surf fans take it? Let’s read some comments!

Just keep in mind that not everyone who wants to watch is on Facebook. I’ve never signed up nor will I ever sign up to Facebook. I will actually stop watching surfing before I will sign up to Facebook. Facebook is not your answer to grow viewership.

It turns out Facebook may be an extension of a Department of Defence program called Lifelog which had the objective of collecting an entire persons life into a database, only thing is it’s illegal to collect this data unless it’s voluntarily given up by unwitting individuals.

the actions of the WSL over the next few months will show us where their loyalties lie ,,,,with a multi national that knows nothing of surfing ,,,or with your loyal fans who do not want facebook . WSL , prepare to be judged

If you truly want to fix this dump facebook. It was a bad decision. Stop the bleeding already.

Lemoore was not a popular choice yet you continue to blindly press on with another event despite the tsunami of negative feedback from the last one, Nobody I have met is interested in watching another one. It’s the same with Facebook. No real surfer I know gives two hoots for Facebook. Even those individuals who still spend hours addicted to it’s pathetic memes and clickbait stories don’t have a lot of good to say about it!

Only a dog returns to its own vomit!

Etc. Etc. Etc.

And here is my honest question, do you think this rage will actually affect viewership of professional surf contests or do you think it is all just lots of hot air?

David Lee Scales and I discussed this yesterday on the podcast (listen here!) and came down on very different sides. He feels that core surf fans are raging but will come straight back to Facebook once their tears have dried. I believe that core surf fans are genuinely incensed and will refuse to return for a multitude of reasons maybe chief amongst them is Facebook’s historic unpopularity (fake news, selling data, etc.).

Who is right? Do you have a gauge on people spouting off versus people actually changing their habits?

If core surf fans leave the broadcast will the World Surf League continue to recruit rabid new surf fans in India?

Or maybe do you think the World Surf League reads their own comment section and will follow Ivan’s advice?

The sad truth is if the audience numbers aren’t there on Facebook, the advertising dollars will stop and everything comes to a screeching halt. The audience (read extremely loyal) that the WSL built on their website and mobile app with the live stream was a HUGE asset, it’s not easy to do, they could have easily charged a premium for viewing without commercials (I personally would have gladly paid) and continued to offer free viewing with commercials. From there they could have expanded their content and created a very valuable lifestyle network. Someone needs to come in and right this ship.


Buy: Wade Goodall’s Million-Dollar Byron Bay Pied-a-Terre!

Great for writing or taking your pants off!

Have you ever thought about giving up? Just walking out of your job, walking out of your automobile lease, walking out of your home/apartment and starting over in Australia’s bucolic Byron Bay? Of course you have. Byron Bay is home to many sexy things like koalas and eucalyptus trees and men who don’t wear pants.

It is also home to Wade Goodall’s ex-home and you YOU can use your automobile lease money and forgotten mortgage/rent payment and slide right in there. Let us read about it.

Professional surfer Wade Goodall and wife Jane are selling their Byron Bay hinterland home.

But they’re not venturing far from their current Bangalow base.

The couple, who have two daughters Violet and Jane, have recently secured a larger block just nearby where they are going to a build a new house.

McGrath Ballina agents Braden and Andrea Walters have a guide of between $1,075,000 to $1.15 million for its August 4 auction.

Wade, who was born in Bangalow, began surfing after watching VHS videos of his father.

He was signed to Billabong when he was 11, spending over 15 years with the popular surf label before he broke both his legs in quick succession.

He has been an ambassador with fashion label Vans.

The couple previously had a 1980s beach house at Moffat Beach.

When moving down from the Sunshine Coast to Bangalow, Goodall said “I’m surrounded by the most beautiful green hills and there’s waves every day”.

Back in 2003 they spent $300,000 on a 690 square metre Palm-Lily Crescent land parcel, set some 13 kilometres inland from the Byron Bay coast.

Their home was built in the classic Queenslander style, set behind a white picket fence.

The modern family home with timber floors and white decor features a rear and front verandah.

It has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a stone bench kitchen and a study nook.

Bangalow house prices have ranged from $700,000 up to $1,695,000 this year.

A tightly-held original Bangalow farmhouse, built around 1910 for the Fowler family, sold last weekend at $1.23 million through Elders agent Duncan Lorimer.

The cottage on a 9133 square metre Fowlers Lane holding came with a $950,000 to $1,045,000 price guide.

Steven Dover set the $4,575,000 record price in 2011.

That was lots too much information but guess what I did today? After podcasting with David Lee Scales I had lunch, at Moto Deli in Leucadia, with Jamie Brisick! He has been one of my writing heroes for years and years and years but I had never met him until today. He not only lived up to my lofty expectations…he far exceeded them.

Who needs Byron when you have Jamie?

Oh. Wait. It looks soothing.

Chas Smith: “I’m slipping into massive crisis! I’m a grand failure!”

It is the most disturbingly honest podcast yet!

I have been here and there and everywhere over the past month. Florida to West Hollywood to Venice’s own Abbott Kinney, almost near Stab, The Inertia and the World Surf League’s adjacent homes. Yes, everywhere except on the Grit! podcast sitting across the reclaimed wood coffee table from David Lee Scales. Podcasts require a physical presence in the way writing doesn’t. I can write or give interviews or write some more from a variety of places but the podcast means being in San Clemente at the Surfrider Foundation offices at the same time as David Lee Scales.

And that moment finally happened this morning. The sun shone brightly, the air had that humid snap wherein it seems like things can turn sideways at a moment’s notice. David Lee and I started light, chatting about the Florida Surf Film Festival before he brought up the deletion of my Instagram account @reportsfromhell and the subsequent creation of my new Instagram account @surfjournalist.

David Lee mentioned that friends and listeners had reached out to him, re. the new account, concerned about my mental health. I laughed, briefly, before admitting that I am truly in an odd state. An overwhelming feeling of failure hovers over everything I have done.

Failure, failure, failure.

How’s that for a little Friday the 13th pick me up?

Listen here! It is the most disturbingly honest podcast yet!

Revelation: Professional surfing huge in India!

An unexpected growth market!

Oh I do know that the World Surf League’s Facebook rollout was much ballyhooed and maybe even historically ballyhooed but there were some great moments. Some fantastic moments, even, caught in amongst the glitches and angry emoji face storm. Like, tracking the number of people watching professional surfing at the very same exact time that you yourself were watching professional surfing.

The number hung up there in the corner moving from the low 2000s to the upper 7000s or the upper hundreds to the mid 3000s (depending on the sex of the surfers). Always a reminder that you are not alone in your passions. Literally thousands (upper hundreds at worst) of others, dotted around this fractured globe, sharing time alone together.

I think thousands of people is so very many but the World Surf League was, apparently, embarrassed and issued a statement that read:

There has been much conversation about the concurrent viewership number displayed in the top-left corner of our live broadcast.

The number displayed on your stream does not represent the total concurrent audience viewing the event. Because we’re serving localized ads against our programming, what you’re seeing is the audience total for the regional stream that you’re connected to.

The total cumulative audience will be defined as the summation of all regional streams across all platforms and connected devices.

In short, what you’re seeing is a much lower number of people viewing than actually are.

Except… by setting up virtual private networks (VPNs) around the fractured globe a lonely boy or girl could theoretically test this assertion, right? Well, it turns out that the “number displayed not representing the total concurrent audience viewing the event” never changed. A true miracle that the same exact number of people were watching professional surfing at the exact same time in Europe, in Australia, in North and in South America and, maybe surprisingly, on the great subcontinent.

Of course this does not account for the thousands more watching on their temporarily reborn WSL app but I think the World Surf League should not be ashamed. I think they should be thrilled by the continuity.

Also, they should be thrilled by professional surfing’s growth in the second and sixth most populous country on earth.

India and neighboring Pakistan!

It seemed a good 75% of the “likes” on the live Corona J-Bay Women’s Open feed came from this region and this, alone, should have been enough to send champagne corks flying into the air at the WSL’s Santa Monica headquarters. Herr Paul Speaker was right! Billions and billions will soon be enjoying professional surfing!

What a red letter day.


Barbarian Days
The reality is that surfing is, by its nature, anti-egalitarian, territorialist, and exclusionary. The immigration issue never comes up in Barbarian Days, but it’s clear that the best surfers’ instincts toward what they care about most, waves, are fiercely restrictionist.

Barbarian Days Review: “Surfing a straight-white-male conspiracy!”

Pulitzer Prize-winning surf memoir reveals surfers as anti-egalitarian, territorialist, and exclusionary.

Do you remember the surf memoir called Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by the New Yorker’s Bill Finnegan?

Three years ago, it won the Pulitzer Prize for biography. The prize committee praised it as, “A finely crafted memoir of a youthful obsession that has propelled the author through a distinguished writing career.”

The Pulitzer Prize, of course, is America’s most prestigious award in journalism. It also includes ten thousand dollars in prize money to each category winner.

The Wall Street Journal called it “gorgeously written and intensely felt… dare I say that we all need Mr Finnegan… as a role model for a life, thrillingly, lived.”

The LA Times said, “It’s also about a writer’s life and, even more generally, a quester’s life, more carefully observed and precisely rendered than any I’ve read in a long time.”

It threw me under the bus of a two-day obsessive read. I’d dived into Finnegan’s work in the New Yorker before, including an excerpt from the book about his time as a kid in Hawaii (read here) and figured the memoir would be gently entertaining but not especially adventurous. I imagined a writer with a loosely knotted bow-tie and a drooping moustache. A delicate New York gentleman, a flabby enthusiast.

I’d only penetrated three chapters into the book when we suddenly camping on Maui waiting for Honolua Bay to break and, shortly after, camping on the empty beach at Tavarua for a week and surfing a new discovery called Restaurants.

Soon, Grajagan in 1979, Africa and, later, among the big-wave surfers of Ocean Beach, San Francisco, and, then, spending long vacations on Madeira, waiting for Jardim Do Mar’s heavy deep-water right to break.

And so on.

Two days ago, the alt-right website published a review of BBD that hits on immigration, overpopulation and surfers’ barely concealed fascism.

Let me squeeze out a little of the juice.

While reading Finnegan’s account of his quintessential boomer life of freedom, security, and opportunity enjoying himself in some of the most desirable real estate in the world, I kept asking from my 2018 perspective: How could he afford that?

Surfing may be even more addictive than its counterparts, such as skiing, mountain climbing, and golf. While the waves are free (which, I learned from Barbarian Days, causes surfers no end of grief), the real estate values of adjoining coastal property have only gone up and up over Finnegan’s lifetime. The roll call of places where Finnegan surfed as a boy and young man—Malibu, Newport Beach, Topanga Canyon, Santa Barbara, Honolulu, Santa Cruz, Maui, Australia’s Gold Coast, Cape Town, and San Francisco—reads like a real estate speculator’s fever dream.

Before overpopulation, women’s lib, and immigration, America, especially California, had needed its young men, and would therefore put up with a lot from them. Finnegan recounts his occasional worries that his obsession with surfing might be interfering with finishing his degree at a free University of California campus and starting a white-collar career, but decent-paying blue-collar jobs were no problem for a strong young man to find back then.

Finnegan is an old-fashioned macho leftist. But he seems unenthused by contemporary anti-straight-white-male identity politics and allows his conservative surfer buddies a number of the best lines in the book, such as his Valley Dude friend who tells him, “You know what your problem is? You don’t like your own kind.”

Interestingly, there are no serious women surfers in Finnegan’s memoir at all. And every single one of his surf buddies has been straight, even his New York City surf pal, John Selya, who is a professional Broadway dancer. While some of Finnegan’s Honolulu surf buddies were Native Hawaiian or Japanese, the only African-American who appears in the book is Punahou Prep’s nonsurfing Barack Obama, who is amazed to hear in 2004 that Finnegan’s parents had sent him to a notoriously haole-hostile public school.

Although Finnegan devotes a few paragraphs to how surfers were, vaguely, part of 1960s leftism, the reality is that surfing is, by its nature, anti-egalitarian, territorialist, and exclusionary. The immigration issue never comes up in Barbarian Days, but it’s clear that the best surfers’ instincts toward what they care about most, waves, are fiercely restrictionist. Surfers tend to be localists, who are like nationalist nativists, only more tribal.

Read the rest here!